- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

Now you know the smart money is always on a No.1 defense over a No.1 offense. Hope it wasn't a costly lesson.
Then again, where have you been for 40 years? Ever heard of Vince Lombardi and George Allen? They preached defense wins championships before many of these players were born.
Chucky rules. Tampa Bay is no longer the joke of the NFL after beating Oakland last night in Super Bowl XXXVII. It was over when Tampa Bay got an early 10-point lead. There was no way Oakland would recover from a 17-point halftime deficit.
The best team won. It just shows how foolish Redskins owner Dan Snyder was when he didn't keep Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson. By the way, showing Johnson's local car commercial at halftime was genius. Give that ad rep a raise.

Q: How did Tampa Bay manhandle Oakland's offensive line? What happened to the Raiders' invincible offense?
A: Raider Nation must need Prozac this morning. Actually, they need it every morning. Oakland simply couldn't stop the Bucs pass rush, and quarterback Rich Gannon didn't have any time. Once they were up two scores, the Bucs played without fear.

Q: But is Tampa Bay really that good? Was the right NFL team holding the Lombardi Trophy?
A: Green Bay was derailed by injuries, Atlanta was a little too young and Philadelphia blew it. Tampa Bay may not even have been the best NFC team but give the Bucs credit for surviving.

Q: Didn't Tampa Bay's Aaron Stecker really fumble the kickoff? It could have been a 10-0 Oakland lead instead of 3-3.
A: It was the right call. Stecker was already down when he tried to extend it another yard. Stecker was guilty of being too cavalier with the ball, but the refs didn't mess up for once.

Q: Time out for commercial analysis. Which spots were your favorites?
A: Normally, the Osbournes aren't worth discussing. Just trailer trash living in Beverly Hills. However, the Pepsi commercial in which the kids became Donny and Marie Osmond and Carol Brady replaced the wife was a classic.
The FedEx knockoff of "Cast Away" was hilarious. Poor guy had a GPS and satellite phone in the package he could have used to get off the island. Nice thinking outside the box. Gotta see "The Hulk," "Bruce Almighty" and "Matrix Reloaded" movies, but "Anger Management" looks weird. ESPN always produces brilliant commercials, and the lost Super Bowl ring was imaginative.
The zebra judging instant replay of a game between horses was interesting, though Budweiser didn't sell much beer off it. The upside-down clown drinking Bud was pure guy humor. The Visa commercial of Yao Ming and the Bud ad of the father in the mosh pit were laugh-out-loud funny. The anti-drug spots were powerful.

Q: Any losers? Who would have been better off buying Ricky Martin T-shirts with their $2.2million spent for 30 seconds of dead air?
A: What was the big deal about the Quiznos commercial? So the guy was in his underwear? The hype about it was overrated. The Dodge Ram commercial in which the guy nearly choked on beef jerky was nasty. The Monster.com and Jackie Chan-Michael Jordan Hanes commercials were boring. The "Miracles" commercials were creepy.

Q: Let's go over the entertainment. Was it up to the usual standards?
A: Hope you tuned in early because Carlos Santana stole the pregame show. Maybe you have to be more than 40 to appreciate him, but Eddie Van Halen is fumble fingers compared to Santana's "Black Magic Woman."
Meanwhile, why did Canadian Celine Dion sing "God Bless America?" Did we run out of singers, or does Dion have so much of our money that she's now one of us? Maybe the song was renamed "God Bless North America." The Dixie Chicks' singing of the national anthem was superb, but you almost wished Stevie Nicks joined them given the trio's rendition of "Landslide" is always somewhere on the dial.

Q: Forget the '70s. What did you think of Shania Twain, Sting and No Doubt during halftime?
A: Yowser, Shania isn't your father's country music. Minnie Pearl never looked like that. Buy me a cowboy hat and get some Grand Ole Opry season tickets. Gwen Stefani seemed like somebody's little brother following Shania onstage, and Stefani's look-alike cheerleaders were scary. Like the flying monkeys in "The Wizard of Oz." At least No Doubt is a cool band even if they make you want to take two aspirin. Sting looked like a chicken head wearing a Tour de France jersey. He used to be cool. How sad. The NFL should sign Creed for next year's show.

Q: ABC missed a lot of plays. How can the network that produces "Monday Night Football" look so inept?
A: They did a lousy job. Replays overlapped live action. The camera didn't always follow the ball. There's no excuse for such sloppiness.

Q: Who's going to win it next year? Is it Redskins-Bengals?
A: Only if they're allowing five-win teams into the playoffs. Instead, look for a couple of rising teams. Atlanta takes the next Super Bowl over the New York Jets 35-27.

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